Sunday, October 05, 2008

Is there a valid case for (late) teenage marriages?


The Washington Times “Sunday Read” (Oct. 5, 2008) magazine has an interesting pair of columns on p 19 that put a favorable light on teen marriage. This topic has come up in conjunction with one of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin’s kids.

An article by Cheryl Wetzstein “Making the Case for Teen Marriages” appears here. She makes several arguments, but one of the most important is that the children of biologically younger (to a point) parents (especially mothers) may live longer and be stronger physically. She says that first-borns tend to live longer partly because their parents are younger.

The idea needs to be tempered by the idea that we now know that the teen or young adult brain is not fully mature biologically (especially in assessing consequences of actions) until about age 25. The main reason that young people delay marriage is educational and economic.

She also points out that if both members of a couple do not cohabit first and preferably are virgins, they are less likely to divorce. With older couples, the likelihood of that ideal situation is less.

She mentions Mormon marriages, which often occur in the late teens, as stressing emotional unselfishness and a willingness to ask for help when needed.

She also mentions the idea that younger couples are more likely to watch grandchildren grow up.

The web link includes a video link discussing the idea of bringing back mutual consent divorce, with exceptions only in cases of abuse.

The print version includes a chart “Young Marriage = Young Grandparents”.

The observation about “selfishness” has two sides. The idea formed the central these of a recent Christian film, “Fireproof”, about a struggling marriage. Yet, young adults often avoid marriage (and children) altogether because they do not want to be locked in to a transformative emotional commitment. Do they owe society a willingness to make one?

There is also a column by Roland C. Warren, “Teen fathers offer more than money,” relating his experience of fatherhood at 20. Warren can be reached at “Fatherhood.org”.

What comes to mind is the 1961 film "Splendor in the Grass" -- and its ending.

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